Book Review: Spice & Wolf Volume 10

Spice & Wolf Volume 10 cover

I hope that everyone is having a good weekend, and that the visitors in the US have made some interesting plans for the coming week.

Things have been relatively decent, though with some uncertainty, and I can still do what I like.

A few days ago, I got some books from Amazon, thanks to some credit I recently received, and of the three titles I got, only one has been covered.

Today, I will be reviewing another one of those titles, which is called Spice & Wolf Volume 10 by Isuna Hasekura.

As I have given a series synopsis in an earlier post, I will not go over it again.

After his little conversation with Eve, Lawrence and the gang set out for an abbey that is said to house the very thing that they are looking, and they are determined to find.

However, things do not seem to be looking good, as the king of Winfiel and an infamous alliance of merchants are after the Abbey's land, and the only way to confirm the intel they received in Kerube is to choose a side, especially when somebody asks for their help concerning the Abbey's future.

While Spice & Wolf has been a fairly interesting series, I keep having to remind myself that nothing is absolutely perfect.

And after reading this, I can say that I was not that impressed.

Fortunately, there were one to two things that I liked, so I do not have to skip right into what I hated, like I did back in my review of the Yu Yu Hakusho movie.

During the course of reading this book, I liked how it was shown that dropping names will not get people very far.

When Lawrence went to talk to the high ranking members of the alliance that had their eye on the abbey that Lawrence and the group wanted to check out, once he had a good amount of proof that the abbey had what he sought, he tried to get them to ally with him by relying on the names of the two people he came across in Lenos and Kerube, and those higher ups were not very well pleased, since they said they would respect him for his name earlier in the conversation.

Seeing this kind of exchange between the men reminded me of how blind the members of my church seem to be and how I wished that they would act. In my church, we have a lot of weird rules, such as the earring rule and R-rated movies thing that many people seem to know about, because the members and local leaders all perpetuate the myth that those at the top, who supposedly speak for God, said that R-rated movies should not be watched and women should not have more than one piercing in each ear, when they either did not say that at all or was just their opinion, and every time I hear them say that the prophet or apostles said so as the proof, I get a little annoyed. After all, there is a reason circumstantial evidence is much more reliable in court than direct evidence, which is discussed in a PDF that I linked to back in my review of episodes 98 & 99 of Detective Conan, and can still be viewed if you use the Internet Archive's WayBack Machine, and dropping names is doing nothing more than relying on something just as unreliable as direct evidence.

Lawrence may have looked into things quite bit concerning the matter, but I was really disappointed that he would try relying on names as much as he did, as he should be able to know enough to doubt any information he receives from people, otherwise he would have not been able to succeed as a merchant as long as he has.

Now, this may seem like I am a bit disappointed in how things played out here, but I am actually glad to see Lawrence make this mistake because he is human and humans make mistakes, which is something that I am proud to see Isuna clearly illustrate here in this series, not that he has failed to be able to do this in any of his work so far.

After all, I doubt that readers would be very impressed with a story if the characters come off as too perfect, though there might be some leniency with whodunnits, as the challenge for readers is to beat the detective to the solution.

Fortunately, Isuna Hasekura knows the importance of having this be present in a story, and it makes me want to give him some applause.

Here is to hoping that Isuna does not forget this important fact in the eight remaining volumes of this series, because that would only really disappoint me now that I am almost two thirds of the way through Spice & Wolf.

The thing that I liked the most though was it was shown that things could be hidden in plain sight.

While it is not quite unheard of for things to be hidden in plain sight, as is demonstrated in the well known invisible gorilla demonstration, it makes sense that it would show up in documents recording assets and such.

Through all the volunteering and actual work experience that I have had in my life, which led to me realizing how unfulfilled I feel with the 9 to 5 type jobs that many of my peers and elders think are a godsend, I have experienced this myself because I eventually did not seem to be able notice any differences, in spite of my keen eye for detail, and, likewise, in this book, the highly knowledgeable businessmen did not notice any discrepancies in the ledgers and assets until Lawrence pointed it out made things fairly believable.

If Isuna Hasekura had not gone this route, I would have been much more disappointed in this book than I am because this series has been fairly well-grounded in a somewhat realistic world, as opposed to a completely fantastical one, and the kind of perfection that would be needed to always know these discrepancies would only end up taking away from the appeal of this series.

However, because Isuna remembered how finances and economics plays a role in the series and made his characters just as flawed as other humans, I actually feel like giving him some applause.

Outside of those things, I cannot really think of anything else that I particularly like, at least that would not fall within the common things that ties the only two things that I liked together.

Because Isuna did a good job at remembering how flawed humans can be and that Lawrence was not so perfect, this book was not that bad, though I do wish there was more to like about it.

Although there were things that I liked, there are some issues.

First, I had a lot of trouble getting into the story.

Whenever, I open up a book, I expect to be pulled right into the work relatively quickly, and is a thing that is quite simple for writers that are actually talented and/or honed their craft.

However, from time to time, there comes a title that does not seem to capture that interest until it is too late, and this is unfortunately one of those titles.

If I had to say why, it is because this book really felt like it just dragged on and had nothing happening.

Now, some of you guys may be harping on me because Spice & Wolf is known to not be a fast paced series and Holo and Lawrence's bond could not possibly deepen at a believable rate if it were fast paced, but if a story can be ruined if a writer speeds through things at a fast enough rate where the characters come off as one dimensional, like Kirito does in Sword Art Online, a story can also become boring if things feel like they are going too slowly.

A good writer will know that a great work of fiction can balance itself out well enough that things do not feel like either things progressed so quickly that the writer probably rushed to finish a work or slow enough that it feel like the reader's time is being wasted, and Isuna had been able to find that balance within most of the books in this series.

Here, however, Isuna seemed to have forgotten that balance, and because of it, I felt like I was reading this more for a report for school or work than because I was actually engrossed in the book enough that I did not want to stop reading for any reason.

What happened, Isuna? I know that delivering gold time and time again is not feasible, but to have failed at delivering in this aspect in just disappointing, especially because he was able to capture my interest in the story quite well back in the sixth book, which has been the most disappointing title in this series up until now.

I do not expect perfection from anybody, though that does not mean that I will like everything I see or read, but I am two volumes away from the two thirds point of this series, and a writer needs to have found their groove by this point, because anything after a reader gets two thirds of the way through their favorite series can make a reader dissatisfied with the series as a whole.

Unfortunately, the way this book was written make Isuna Hasekura come off as much of joke as John Grisham appeared to be in The Whistler, and this book was originally released approximately three years after the first book, according to the afterword of this book.

Really, Isuna? Right now, I feel like doing what Kuwabara did at Yusuke Urameshi's wake, because I was expecting better than this, especially because one of the more positive reviews of this book on Amazon said that it brought back everything that was great about this series, which had been lost at around the sixth book.

The Isuna Hasekura I got to know over the course of this series seems to be gone and has been replaced with the rather unimpressive Isuna Hasekura that I saw in World End Economica, and it disappoints me enough that I am not too sure that I would want to continue on with this series or even check out his newest work that will be released in November where I live.

Writers and publishers need to make the readers happy in order to earn a living, and if readers are not satisfied with a work, it will result in a loss of a potential sale, and that is not helped when things that are not really that great, like this work, are continually released.

Hopefully, things improve in the next few volumes, seeing as there is going to be two more intermissions before the main storyline concludes, because I do not really want to stop following this series, which managed to impress me more than the anime adaptation has.

Then again, just like everyone else, I cannot always afford what I want, so I will have to just wait and see where things go from here.

I also hated how there did not seem like anything happened in this volume.

While this is not the first time a book in this series made me feel like nothing happened, the last book to give me this feeling, which was the sixth book, was not totally devoid any events, as the group of two became a party of three and there were rumors that possibly connected to Holo.

Unfortunately, in this book, even less seemed to have happened and things just came off as more the usual.

One of the best things about this series is how the mundane is presented in a way that it is just as interesting as things related to the actual plot of the journey and it makes the whole thing that much more interesting than many of the titles released by big name writers ever could because things do not feel like they are being dragged on, even if they are.

However, Isuna has really seemed to have forgotten that during the course of writing this book, and it results in making this book feel like an unnecessary addition to the series.

After all, it is important for slow paced series to make everything seem interesting and have something going on.

Seriously, Isuna! Go back and look at what made this series great to begin with, because your three years experience has seemed to have utterly failed you, and that is something that readers do not want to see.

The thing that I hated the most though was not so was how there was not too much humor to be found.

While the humorous moment that could be found in this series were not all that unique, it helped to make the whole series a lot more enjoyable and bearable because the banter and such were all quite funny to imagine in my head, which is quite important for light novels, since the story in light novel is mostly delivered as prose.

However, nothing of the sort could be found in this volume and it ended up making the normally interesting, yet mundane, moments feel rather dull.

In fact, this book reminded me of how dissatisfied I was with Imagin's adaptations of Spice & Wolf, which were pretty much as devoid of humor as this book.

This is not want readers want to see in any of their favorite series, and if one were to pick this up, they would not be able to see how great this series can be, because Isuna has completely and utterly failed to delivered on everything that made this feel so great.

Seriously, it feels like nobody went through this book before it was published and realized that one of the things that was really needed was missing, and it makes me regret even buying this.

Hopefully, things do not get any worse from here, otherwise the series would have only become a former shell of itself, and that would only end up losing readers than being able to retain them like a series should.

Fortunately, nothing else bothered me to no end, as there were only things that were too minor to talk about, so there is not anything else that could possibly ruin this any further.

Because there was quite a bit wrong with the book, enough so that it made me think that either the writer forgot what made the series look good or that it had not been fixed, this ended up being truly atrocious.

Despite the fact that there were one or two things that were kind of good, the negatives far outweighed them enough to make this a complete waste of time.

I recommend everyone avoid this book like the plague that it is because there was absolutely nothing to redeem it from how much was missing from the rest of the series, but if you want to give a try, especially if you are a hardcore fan of either Spice & Wolf or Isuna Hasekura, you are free to do so, as my opinion is not the be all end all.

If you liked this review and would like to see more, please consider supporting me on Patreon or buying the earlier volumes in the Spice & Wolf series from Amazon, so that I can see if things get better for this series, as I hope they will, and/or find other worthwhile reads for you guys, and do whatever you do when you find something that impresses you.

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Copyright © 2015 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.